DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 332

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c/n 332



Entries preceded by date are extracts from Canadian Department of Transport archives.

13-Mar-1960. Application for Certificate of Registration for DHC-3 by Eastern Provincial Airways Ltd., Gander, NL.

14-Mar-1960. Allotment CF-MEX DHC-3 msn 332 to de Havilland Aircraft Company of Canada Ltd., Downsview, ON.

14-Apr-1960. Certificate of Airworthiness #8163 issued.

14-Apr-196.0 Certificate of Registration #23002 issued to Eastern Provincial Airways Ltd., Gander, NL.

• CF-MEX Eastern Provincial Airways, Gander, NL. Delivered 20-Apr-1960.

• CF-MEX Leased to Greenlandair (Gronlandsfly A/S), Sondrestrom, Greenland. Circa Apr / May-1960.

Total time: At 13-Mar-1961 489 hours.

Accident: On a small lake north of Sondrestrom, Greenland. 29-Aug-1961. An in-flight fire caused the pilot to force land on the lake. No passengers injured but the pilot Jim Roe subsequently succumbed to the injuries caused by burns received as he beached the aircraft whilst saving the passengers. Further information below.

• CF-MEX Cancelled from Canadian Civil Aircraft Register, 30-Nov-1967.

Destroyed by fire


Otter 332 was delivered to Eastern Provincial Airways (EPA) of Gander, Newfoundland on 20 April 1960 registered CF-MEX. Marsh Jones, in his book on EPA entitled ‘The Little Airline that Could’ describes the delivery: “On April 21 I took delivery of a new Otter from de Havilland Canada in Toronto. The aircraft was on amphibious floats and was destined to Greenland. A single refuelling stop was made at Moncton, then on to Gander, for a total flying time of eleven hours”.  The Otter was in the standard EPA colour scheme of the period, red overall with a white cheatline and white tail stripe.

In 1958 EPA had been asked by the Danish government to provide an air service in Greenland, performing ice reconnaissance, aerial photography and survey work. A Canso was sent to Greenland for this purpose. In 1960 the airline was engaged to supply aircraft, men and facilities for regular passenger service in Greenland, using both Canso and Otters. The aircraft were operated under lease to the Royal Greenland Trading Department, who administered Greenland on behalf of the Danish government, but were flown and maintained by EPA personnel. Services were to be flown throughout the year, on floats in summer and wheel-skis in winter.

As Marsh Jones describes in his book: “Our most interesting operation involved the requirement for two Otters and one Canso to carry out internal flying operations in south-east Greenland. The three aircraft, Otter CF-LEA (286) flown by Jack Kielley, Otter CF-MEX flown by Ian Massie and Canso CF-CRP flown by Ben Rivard and Paul Bjerg, together with supporting maintenance crews and spares, departed Gander 26 April 1960 with refuelling stops at Goose, Knob Lake, Fort Chimo, Frobisher, Cape Dyer and arrived Sondrestrom, Greenland the following day. All aircraft were amphibious, allowing them to operate from the runway at Sondrestrom and on water at the coastal points. The crews were accommodated in the SAS hotel in Sondrestrom and the Greenland Trade Hotel in Godthaab. The aircraft operated in Greenland that summer and returned to Gander in October 1960.

EPA was again contracted to operate the internal air services for summer 1961. Otter CF-MEX arrived back at Sondrestrom in early March 1961 and was used on wheel-skis. It was joined early May by Otter CF-LEA (286), which returned to Gander on 16 June, leaving MEX as the only Otter operating in Greenland for the rest of the summer. MEX was based at Sondrestrom (also known as Sondy) and flew scheduled services to the communities along the West Coast, thirteen towns and settlements in all, such places as Holsteinborg, Egedesminde, Christianshab, Jakobshavn and Godhavn. For some days the Otter was based in Egedesminde, operating shuttle flights between the towns in Disco Bay. It also flew some charters and ambulance flights. During the summer it operated on floats.

Operations continued with MEX until tragedy struck on 29 August 1961. The Otter had taken off from Sondrestrom on a charter to Egedesminde and points north, with four passengers (two USAF personnel and two Danes) and two pilots. The Otter had levelled off at 3,500 feet and was some twenty kilometres north of Sondy when a severe in-flight fire broke out, initiated and sustained due to a leak in the carburettor. The pilot made a forced landing on the nearest lake. None of the passengers had been injured but the two pilots had been badly burned, particularly the captain, who later died of his injuries.

It had been, by all accounts, a terrifying affair. A week later the co-pilot told the story from his home in Gander, where he was recuperating from severe leg burns: “I wouldn’t be here today, nor would our passengers, but for the heroic thing Jim Rowe (the captain) did”, said the co-pilot in his newspaper interview. The fire had started suddenly and produced so much smoke in the cockpit that the co-pilot could not see what the other pilot was doing, but he was told about it afterwards when both were in hospital. Rowe had lined up the amphibious Otter for a landing on the lake, when the heat in the cockpit became unbearable. “I just couldn’t stay in the cockpit any longer”, Rowe had told him. He had eased half his body outside the cockpit and shielded to some extent from the flames by the cockpit door, stayed at the controls until the Otter landed on the water. The aircraft zoomed across the lake and skidded into the shore in flames. The pilot was thrown forward and out of the cockpit by the impact and became trapped under the left float. He remained trapped while the Otter burned to destruction, sustaining further burns. Both pilots were flown by USAF rescue helicopter to Sondy and airlifted from there to hospital in Goose Bay. Jim Rowe was then transferred to a specialised unit in a hospital in Toronto, but sadly died of his injuries on 7 September 1961. Otter MEX had been completely destroyed in the accident and fire. It had 750 hours total time on destruction.

Jim Rowe had been the pilot of EPA Otter CF-GCV (2) when it made its dramatic forced landing on Lower Savage Island, Northwest Territories on 14 October 1958. For his actions in saving his passengers in the crash of MEX he was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air. A street in Gander town has been named in his honour.

Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005), now with added and updated information which Karl has supplied for the benefit of the website.